TOKYO (AP) — Roki Sasaki pitched a perfect game with 19 strikeouts, leading the Chiba Lotte Marines over the Orix Buffaloes 6-0 on Sunday in Japan’s Pacific League.

The 20-year-old right-hander struck out 13 consecutive batters and needed 105 pitches to complete the nine-inning game. Ko Matsukawa, an 18-year-old catcher, was behind the plate.

“This is the greatest,” Sasaki was quoted as saying by Japan’s Kyodo news agency.

“Honestly, I wasn’t thinking about the possibility,” he said of the perfect game. “I figured it would be OK if I gave up a hit, so I just pitched and put my trust in Matsukawa right until the end.”

Sasaki pitched the 16th complete game perfect game in the Japanese major leagues, the first since Hiromi Makihara of the Central League’s Yomiuri Giants in a 6-0 win against the Hiroshima Toyo Carp on May 18, 1994.

Kyodo reported that Sasaki’s father was killed in the in the earthquake, tsunami and meltdown of three nuclear reactors in March 2011 that devastated northeastern Japan.

Sasaki signed with the Marines out of high school, and was scouted by Major League Baseball teams. He is reported to routinely touch 100 mph with his fastball.


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